Impacting 30 million people within the U.S. alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results because of the wearing away of cartilage, creating friction within the joints as unprotected bones rub against one another. While it may appear in virtually any joint, it is most common in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Given that it’s so prevalent, it’s very important for all of us to understand the basics of arthritis and what to do if you or someone you love is diagnosed. The following important information can help.
- What causes arthritis? Despite the fact that an exact cause is unidentified, it frequently strikes seniors and those whose bodies are unable to fix joint tissue.
- Am I at risk? There are many risk factors:
- Age (most common in those over age 40)
- Trauma or overuse of a joint
- Gender (more prevalent in females than males)
- Profession (individuals performing repetitive tasks)
- Certain medical conditions (particularly other forms of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment of the ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are the symptoms? In the beginning, there may be no apparent symptoms, but as osteoarthritis advances, signs may include stiffness, swelling, and pain that is more intense after the joint has been at rest for a period of time, along with soreness, warmth, and trouble moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound once the joint is moved.
- How will a doctor diagnose osteoarthritis? The doctor’s assessment should include tests to exclude other potential causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What treatments are available? Although there’s no cure or treatment to undo the damage attributable to arthritis, symptoms are generally reduced through pain medications, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle modifications, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can supplements help? While some studies have indicated that individuals with inadequate intake of vitamins C, D and K may have an increased risk of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has determined that taking supplements of these vitamins, along with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, has not been confirmed to be safe or effective. It is very important to always check with your health care provider prior to taking any supplements.
- Help with light housework, laundry, as well as other activities which could be challenging or lead to pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing inspiration and confidence to take part in doctor-advised exercises
- Offering transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, and running errands
- And many others
Reach out to us at 785-286-2273 for more helpful resources related to osteoarthritis as well as other conditions common to aging, and to request a complimentary in-home consultation for additional details on how our highly skilled, fully trained and experienced care staff can improve quality of life for an older adult you love.